Apprentice2007
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Location: Solebury

winter care for a tree grown in a true exposed-root style

My very good friend was who was teaching me Bonsai died unexpectedly recently and I had not yet gone through the late Autumn/Winter training with him. I live about 30 miles north of Philadelphia, PA.

I have received 7 out of 29 of his trees, mostly Acer Palmetums and all deciduous. He has 2 trees that really concern me for this winter.

One is a tree whereby he developed exposed roots that reach roughly 4 inches out of the ground and the tree itself is cascading down out of its pot. The exposed roots have good bark all around.

The other 'tree' is a grouping of 5 trees that are close to each other.

He told me that he always takes his trees from their pots around this time of year and plants them in the ground.

In the spring, when the buds begin to appear, he takes the trees and repots them. (I did some of this with him in March)

So,
1 - how far up do I cover the roots of the trees? -- just covering the roots and not too much of the base of the tree? Is there a general rule of thumb to the deepness of the plantings otherwise.

2 - How should I bury the roots of the cascading tree? -- do I make a higher mound, put the tree in there? How wide should this mound be?

3 - The group of 5 -- should this be planted as is into the soil? It would appear to me that 4 of the 5 are solidly grouped together, but that the 5th one is still trying to 'be accepted' by the others (best way I could describe it).

I have watched many hours of internet video and read your posts (thank you for being so thorough), but I did not see these items addressed. I have signed up for some classes, but they will not take place until December and I can't wait that long to put them into the ground.

Your help would be very much appreciated as I would like to honor him by continuing his work.

alexinoklahoma
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Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:21 pm
Location: Central Oklahoma

Sorry for your loss, so lets see what we can do for ya:

1)cover enough to keep the chill off the roots - depends on the temps expected. Alaska needs lots more than Oregon, so to speak. Usually a few inches max above roots is plenty - try to avoid burying trunk w/ super-water-retentive stuff to fend off rot issues.

2)Yes, make a mound, or put it in a bigger pot and fill that pot w/ mulch, dirt, or whatever. Make the mound big enough to insulate. Hard to say without seeing pic and all, but common sense works here (usually). Creativeness goes a long ways, too.

3)Yes, plant them all together as you will likely be separating/root-pruning them for replanting (assumedly). taking apart now will hurt them more than if they are dormant, I believe.

Exposed roots that are 'hardened', ie have bark upon them, are not as tender as you may think. Tender, yes, but not like the younger ones without *any* protection or 'strengthening' tissues surrounding them. Piling bark mulch or such is likely to help enough, but a bit more protection is not uncalled for at any time. If you did not already know this, a layer of snow or ice helps *greatly* when temps plunge way down there. Almost like a tree-igloo. Cold yes, but not frrrr-eee-zzzz-iiiing cold ;)

I know my answers aren't the best, but shuld hopefully help you comtinue things in honor of your friend. Just keep the rodents off 'em, LOL! Been there and done that - unfortunately.

Alex

alisios
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Location: Sedona, Arizona

alexinoklahoma wrote:
I know my answers aren't the best, but shuld hopefully help you comtinue things in honor of your friend.


Your answers are always informative and helpful, Alex!

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Apprentice2007,

Hello and welcome. Sorry to hear of the loss of your mentor, I wish that I had someone who was able to help me that way. The best thing you can do is to care for your new trees to the best of your ability.

Alex covered most of your questions but I have a few things to add, take it all in and make your decisions appropriately.

I have used this method before but most of my trees stay in their pots throughout the winter. Some things to consider though is that I keep many in an unheated garage that spares the trees the extremes of temperature. You may not have access to such a structure. Nor do I have any expensive or old pots that I am terribly concerned about. There is always the possibility that such may fracture due to water expansion so take that into consideration as well.

Trees that have been re-potted the previous spring may not "hold together" well the first fall. Trees that have been potted more than one year will be more stable. This kind of touches on your concern about the new tree in the forest planting. Be careful when you handle such plantings and get them from their pots into the ground quickly.

After planting them water them in well to ensure a good bond with the earth, no air pockets. Don't mulch right away, the season is just now upon us. Allow the cold to penetrate the earth somewhat, It is not so much low temperatures that are the problem as temperature fluctuations.

Get a large pile of shredded leaves ready and after the ground gets "crusty' from frost mulch the trees in well. It will not hurt to cover them up a bit with the leaves either, deciduous trees require no light while dormant so don't let that concern you. By waiting a little you not only allow the ground to cool down but hopefully the rodents have already found their winter shelter and will be less inclined to bother your trees.

After you have snow cover the trees even further with loose snow. As Alex noted this insulates very well. Last year I had temperatures around 0f and only lost a couple of young things that I mis-handled. All of my more established trees did OK. The neighbors thought I was crazy raking snow.

I wish you well and please come back and let us know how your trees fare over the winter.

Norm

Apprentice2007
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Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:13 am
Location: Solebury

winter care for a tree grown in a true exposed-root style

Thank you all for your condolences and information. I will be employing what you wrote tomorrow (Sunday). I am glad that you mentioned the snow covering because I was wondering if it were possible to have too much of a snow blanket, but you anticipated and I won't try to remove the snow, but leave it in place.

To address your concern about keeping the rodents out, that must be why he had told me to build a cage, and including the floor, to place chicken wire all around.

It really is a relief to find such a forum that will supplement and/or reinforce information that he has taught me.

I will take some pictures of them now and learn how to post them and then again in the spring and post those as well.

Thank you all again............Jean

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Jean,

You're welcome, glad to help a little. Look here for some good information regarding taking and posting pictures on this forum. Are you aware that there is a bonsai gallery on the site? Go up one level to "Garden Forum Index" and you will see it. I look forward to seeing your pictures.

Norm

alexinoklahoma
Senior Member
Posts: 273
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:21 pm
Location: Central Oklahoma

Raking snow , huh? I could see neighbors being 'gossipy' on *that* lol ;)

And a tought on the rodents...a person in upper New York lost a LOT last winter when the 'rats' tunneled under the coverings of leafs/twigs she made against side of her house. The rats just used the tunnels to go to/from from the pots to their dens and she had no idea whe was losing most of the above-soil growths unseen. It *may* be prudent to give a 'break-line', ie bare-ground, between the pots' leaf-piles and the other 'duff' and stuff-of-'cover' to keep rats/twig-gatherers from having such easy access to nice juicy *easily* obtained twigs/branches. Rats hate nothing more than having to cross an area in which they can be seen easily - they'll stay hidden at every opportunity if you follow me on this. Rodents often wake up in winter to gather more 'stuff' so nothing is ever truly safe ;)

Alex

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